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July 7, 2016 / peoplesbookprize

Quentin smith⌈ Vote Now ⌋

In the lead up to The People’s Book Prize 2016 we caught up with author Quentin Smith to talk about his novel

16mm of Innocence

Quentin Smith is a full-time anaesthetist in the north east of England and lives in Durham.  Born in 1965 he studied medicine in Cape Town and completed his anaesthesia training back in England. His most memorable experience as a young man was working in a civil war zone for two years as a doctor, something he evidently survived. He used to be a competitive Bisley rifle marksman and worked for his father erecting granite tombstones in peaceful countryside cemeteries as a student. Quentin is fascinated by elements of the historical fiction genre, especially relating to 20th-century European history, bringing the past to life with contemporary appeal, because it contains so many moving stories that deserve telling.  A medical theme is usually present at the core of most of his novels because he knows this best, and being passionate about Durham and the north of England, Quentin endeavours to establish at least one character or a memorable scene in this beautiful part of the country in all of his novels.

When did you start writing?

I have been writing since my school days back in the 1970s and I have written throughout my professional working life, but only ever in snatches. Only the last 8 years or so have provided me with time and opportunity to study creative writing in greater depth and commit more time to writing complete novels.

As an Author, what influences you the most?

When I was a young boy I used to spend a great deal of time with an aunt who was herself a published author in the US, and she used to encourage me and help me with my writing. As a boy I was also an avid reader consuming all the Conan Doyle books with great enthusiasm. As I ended up studying medicine, in later years I found the books of Patricia Cornwell very inspiring, thinking that I too could achieve something like she has.

Where did the idea for this book originate? 

My great aunt died mysteriously as a result of a forbidden love back in the 1920s and this provided the seed around which the rest of the book formed. After choosing the foreboding setting of Luderitz the history of that area fed the rest of the plot voraciously and created enough to produce a novel.

The People’s Book Prize nominees are voted for by the readers, how important are your readers to you?

My readers are everything. In times of disillusionment they are my reason for writing these days. Their enthusiasm and enquiries about “what are you writing?” and “when is your next book out?” are what inspire me to keep going even when the going is really tough.

We like to think there’s a voice for everyone in Publishing – what is your opinion?

Communicating the stories of our existence from one generation to the next is the essence of our human existence. It started off as stories from the elders around the camp fires, progressed to primitive rock art and later to written communication. Then came printing and now we have ebooks. There is good writing and bad writing, but there is not a place only for commercial writing, and that sadly is the way the market seems to be going.

Troubador Publisher publishes a variety of brilliant authors, what is it like to be in the company of talented writers?

Inspiring, extremely humbling, uplifting.

What book influenced you most as a writer and what are you reading at the moment?

I love the works of Sebastian Faulks and given my great interest in 20thC historical fiction I would be hard pressed to choose between Birdsong and Charlotte Gray. At the moment I am reading The Good Liar, the debut novel of a fellow student of mine on the Curtis Brown Creative writing course in 2014, a book I saw in construction during that course.

What can we expect from you in the future? What are you writing at the moment?

Despite the enormous challenges of remaining positive in a shrinking market increasingly dominated internationally by the major 5 publishing houses, I find expression and great pleasure out of writing and I’m sure I will continue, even if not at the prolific pace of the past 6 years which have produced 3 novels. At the moment I have recently finished another historical novel set in occupied Bordeaux amongst the winemakers and the French resistance. Another blend of captivating fiction and historical fact.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I feel very privileged to have had so many readers vote for me to reach the final 12 of The People’s Book Prize with two successive novels. There can be no greater reward for any writer than to know that his/her readers enjoy their creations.


Find Quentin at:

Facebook: quentinsmithbooks

home pageThe People’s Book Prize is the unique literary competition that is judged by the nation and open to all UK publishing companies.

You Be the Judge: The People’s Book Prize – “The home for new and undiscovered works.”

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